QUEENSLANDERS are a loyal lot when it comes to beer. They love their XXXX and it can take a lot for the northerners to be tempted to tipple southern brews.
But desperate times, can force desperate measures.
A strike by workers at Castlemaine Perkins Brewery in 1937 resulted in Brisbane pubs running dry, and publicans going to extraordinary lengths to quench the thirsts of their customers.
The brewery workers were striking for improved conditions and a 40 hour week.
Brisbane publicans were even advertising Melbourne beer across the facades of their pubs – and their parched customers, relunctantly relented.
Publicans scoured the country districts, not only in Queensland but in NSW, driving their cars lengthy distances, looking for elusive beer to stock their hotels. They soon emptied the pubs of the most prominent towns of the Northern Rivers of NSW, and they were forced to visit little known places, and the wayside inns as the strike lingered.
Securing a few dozen bottles here and half a dozen there, the publicans filled their cars before making the long drive back across the border.
Shipping also became busier at Brisbane ports.
Heavy cargoes were unloaded in Brisbane and prominent among the goods was large consignments of southern beer – including from breweries in Sydney and Melbourne.
The southern breweries adopted a system of sharing the consignments among the various ships. They were sent in paper bags, somewhat like cement bags, each parcel containing a dozen bottles.
The ’12 packs’ were not going to breweries or warehouses though, as was the normal practice, but straight to the publicans and their hotels.
While there had always been a regular trade with the southern breweries in Brisbane, during the Castlemaine strike the shipments were much larger than in normal time.